Boost brain health, energy levels and immune function

Certain foods have powerful medicinal and protective properties that can have a profound effect on your health. They contain an abundance of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids) to keep the body healthy and disease at bay.

Discover which 12 foods you should eat daily to boost brain health, energy levels and immune function.

The importance of a naturopathic diet

Eating an organic, wholefood diet that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, quality protein, fibre and healthy fats is always the best approach for optimal health.

Eat foods seasonally in their whole state, avoid overcooking or over-processing foods (instead eat foods as raw as possible to maintain nutrients) and rotate foods so that you’re not eating the same every day.

It’s also important to chew your food properly and not drink while eating as the liquid dilutes the enzymes necessary for digestion.

This is the foundation of a naturopathic diet and these principles form the basis of the Natural Chef and Vegan Natural Chef courses at CNM. Good nutrition restores balance in the body and enable cells to thrive.

Healthy foods to eat every day

Blueberries are loaded with powerful antioxidants that help protect cells from damage. They are particularly high in a type of antioxidant called polyphenols which are beneficial for gut bacteria and cognitive function. Blueberries also contain plenty of fibre, vitamins and minerals including vitamin C and K, manganese and folate. You can eat them on their own or add them to smoothies.

Broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse as it’s full of key nutrients and has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Broccoli contains a compound called glucosinolates which when broken down by the body produce isothiocyanates, a molecule that neutralises carcinogenic toxins and helps lower the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Broccoli is great for supporting liver and hormone health too.

Leafy greens (kale, spinach, rocket) are rich is essential B vitamins, vitamin E and vitamin K and an abundance of minerals which support brain health and cardiovascular function, improve memory and focus, and promote a healthy immune system.

Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are packed with antioxidants and minerals including magnesium, zinc, iron and copper that help protect the brain from free radical damage and facilitate effective nerve signalling. Sunflower seeds are also rich in thiamine (B1), an important vitamin for memory and cognition.

Brazil nuts contain ellagic acid (a type of antioxidant) that has anti-inflammatory properties to protect cells (especially brain cells) from damage. They are also high in the mineral selenium which is needed for brain signalling pathways, fertility health, immune system function and thyroid hormone production. 

Chia seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for brain health, enabling brain cells to communicate better. Omega-3 also reduces inflammation and aids cognitive development in children and improved memory in adults. Add chia seeds to your breakfast oats, to smoothies or make a yummy chia pudding.

Brussels sprouts are full of fibre and antioxidants which are important for gut health, helping to prevent constipation and improve bowel motions and nutrient absorption. Brussels sprouts also contain sulphur compounds that help reduce inflammation and detoxify harmful toxins from the gut.

Turmeric contains curcumin, a powerful compound with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that has shown to cross the blood-brain barrier to help brain cells grow, reduce mental decline and improve memory and mood. Add turmeric to cooking or drink it as a turmeric latte or with lemon water in the morning.

Ginger helps to stimulate your digestive juices and the production of stomach acid which is essential for breaking down food so the body can digest it. Good levels of stomach acid are key for digestive health. Ginger is also a strong anti-inflammatory and is known to help regulate blood sugar levels. Add fresh grated ginger to warm water with lemon and cook with it wherever possible.

Garlic is an amazing vegetable to include in your diet. With its antifungal and antibacterial properties, garlic helps keep gut bacteria and yeasts balanced and in check. It also contains inulin, a type of fibre that provides fuel for the good bacteria, allowing them to function efficiently. Garlic is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties which can support the immune system and heart health. Throw some raw diced garlic into a salad or add it to your cooking.

Mushrooms have been used for centuries in Asia for medicinal purposes as they have numerous therapeutic properties that support immune function, boost energy and cognition, reduce inflammation and help the body in times of stress. Medicinal mushrooms such as Reishi, Shiitake and Maitake contain a substance called beta-glucans that stimulate the immune system to work more efficiency and promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Lion’s mane has shown to boost brain function, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and repair damaged nerve cells. Medicinal mushrooms come as a fresh whole food, as a powder (which can be added to food or drinks) or in a capsule.

Fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi are excellent for gut health. Sauerkraut is made from finely chopped cabbage and is fermented in a jar using salt. Kimchi is a Korean fermented dish of napa cabbage, radishes, garlic, ginger and chillies. Both sauerkraut and kimchi are great sources of probiotics (beneficial microbes for the gut), nutrients and fibre so they make a healthy addition to your diet to support digestion.

Eating for health

The best way to achieve optimal health and vitality is to eat a wholesome, organic diet that is rich in nutrients and health-promoting foods such as broccoli, leafy greens, mushrooms, fermented foods. Season your food with herbs and spices like turmeric and ginger as they have powerful medicinal properties to boost health.

CNM’s Natural Chef diploma teaches the importance of a naturopathic diet that encourages the use of whole, organic and seasonal plant-based foods prepared and eaten in a way to improve digestion, increase energy and support overall health.